Truth and Consequences
This is the title of an article about vaccine use in Parade magazine (10/7/12), from which I excerpt the following:
From Edward Jenner's realization that cowpox could protect human beings from smallpox in 1796 to the introduction in the US of the polio vaccine in 1955 and the measles vaccine in 1963, immunizations have allowed us to nearly--and, in the case of smallpox, complete--eliminate diseases that once killed thousands or even millions of people. . .How did lifesaving vaccines--once greeted with relief and open arms--turn into something so feared?. . .While one recent study showed that only about 2 percent of parents refuse all immunizations, more than 1 in 10 skip some vaccines or delay the age at which they're given. INcreasingly, those parents tend to be clustered together, creating communities where vaccination rates may have dropped below the levels needed to keep infectious diseases at bay. . .Ironically, it is the very success of vaccines that may have led some paretns to skip their children's shots. . ."There's a lot of mistrust because there's a lot of misinformation out there.". . .Experts say many parents may not realize that a vaccine's ability to stave off the spread of deadly diseases is most effective only when the vast majority are inoculated. This mechanism is called herd immunity: When enough people in a population are vaccinated against a disease--typically 85 to 95 percent--those unable to get vaccinated or whose immune systems are compromised are also protected. While parents who skip vaccines may benefit from herd immunity, they are also putting it in jeopardy. . .In 2011 we went from an average of 60 cases of measles a year to more than 200. . .In 2010 the San Diego Union-Tribune reported that the number of area parents who exempted their kindergartners from vaccines had quadrupled since 1990. In 2010, California schools experienced the highest rate of vaccine non-compliance in more than 30 years. . .Multiple states have faced pertussis outbreaks this year, and reported cases are at their highest level in half a century.
Our nation is facing epidemics of vaccine preventable disease because of fear and ignorance. Sadly, children are dying because their parents are misinformed about the safety of vaccines.
And our nation is facing an epidemic of inappropriate care and preventable patient injury while at the same time dealing with an epidemic of death due to uninsurance, also because of fear and ignorance.
How is it possible that so great a nation has an electorate so unable to grasp the truth about basic medical science and health policy? Can anyone answer that?
Dr. Joe Jarvis